Yellowstone National Park Reinstates HIGH Fire Danger Amid Wildfire Season

by Jon D. B.
Fire danger high NPS/Jacob F. Frank

Seven wildland fires have ignited across Yellowstone National Park (YELL) this fire season, and the park’s fire danger level is crucial knowledge for visitors. 

As September 2022 rolled in, Yellowstone declared its Wildfire Season. Six previous wildfires have been either declared out or contained, but the park cites Friday that one active wildland fire remains.

Throughout early October, YELL set their fire danger level to MODERATE. Today, however, the park moves it up to HIGH as historic droughts continue across America’s West. Below, we’re breaking down what this means for park visitation with information directly from park staff. Then, we’ll dive further into what Yellowstone’s wildfire situation has been in 2022 so far.

Breakdown of Yellowstone National Park Fire Danger at ‘HIGH’:

  • Currently, there is one active wildland fire in the park
  • Stay informed about current fire activity in Yellowstone
  • Currently, there are no fire restrictions in place or planned in the park
  • Campfires are only permitted within established fire rings in campgrounds and some backcountry campsites 
  • Campfires must always be attended and cold to the touch before abandoning
    • Remember: Soak, stir, feel, repeat
  • The Greater Yellowstone area is a fire-adapted ecosystem
    • Fire plays an important role in maintaining the health of this area’s wildlife habitat and vegetation.     

As wildfires become more frequent and severe across the planet, Yellowstone remains a relatively fire-safe park. This does not mean fires do not happen in America’s first national park, however. In 2022, the park’s first fire of the year came on July 20, a full month before Wildfire Season is typically declared.

2022 Fires in Yellowstone

NameReported OnCauseAcresStatus
Obsidian FireJuly 20Vehicle0.1Out
Telemark FireAugust 16Lightning0.1Out
Gray FireAugust 29Lightning0.1Out
Phantom/Pitchstone FireSeptember 6Unknown0.1Controlled
Glen FireSeptember 8Lightning0.1Controlled
Geode FireSeptember 8Lightning0.1Controlled
Big Horn FireSeptember 27Lightning5Monitored

This latest fire, the Big Horn Fire, began on Sept. 27 and continues to burn well into October. Big Horn is largely inaccessible as it inhabits “very steep, rugged and rocky terrain in the remote northwest corner of the park,” the National Park Service told Outsider early this month.

Thankfully, Yellowstone’s helicopter crew reacted swiftly to the fire and it remains a low-threat to the park or public. Big Horn Fire was likely ignited by lightning several days prior to its discovery, and smoke continues to billow up from the incredibly steep terrain in the park’s northwest corner.

If you or anyone you know is heading into Yellowstone National Park, staying informed on park fire safety is important at all times of year. It becomes paramount, however, during Wildfire Season that you “know before you go.”

As the season continues, fire-related closures may occur. Closures affecting Yellowstone roads will also be available on the park roads page. Specific closures affecting park trails and trailheads are available on the backcountry situation report. If you prefer to call, dial 307-344-7102 for regular recorded updates.

Stay safe out there, Outsiders!